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U.K. authorizes COVID booster targeting variants; when does the US get it?

The United Kingdom on Monday authorized Moderna’s new coronavirus booster that targets both the original COVID-19 virus and the omicron variants, The Guardian reported.

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The booster showed a “potent” response against the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, according to clinical trials. The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are responsible for the surge in coronavirus cases over the past few months.

The Moderna shot is “bivalent,” meaning it’s a mix of two versions of the vaccine — one version targets the original virus and the other version is aimed at omicron variants.

The shots will give United Kingdom health officials a new tool against the evolving coronavirus, said Dr. June Raine, head of the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

“What this bivalent vaccine gives us is a sharpened tool in our armory to help protect us against this disease as the virus continues to evolve,” Raine said.

It is unclear when the shots will be available in the U.K., but Moderna said in a statement that it was working with British health officials to distribute the vaccine as quickly as possible.

When will it be available in the United States?

According to Moderna, the United States government has secured 66 million doses of the new booster. The Biden administration has been working on a coronavirus booster campaign for launch in September that will include the new booster designed to provide stronger protection against the omicron subvariants.

Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have both told the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that the reformulated doses will be ready in September.

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